Friday, August 26seppuku. every rock star has its day. and my time has come. things happen so fast when you're leaving. like you can't really come to grips with the fact that it's finally over and next week you won't have to come in. i've been waiting for something to derail the plans since i put in my five days notice on monday -- i'm in a rush, i got things to do -- but everything has worked out to peachy perfection.
i'm still on overtime today however, just for you know, old time's sake. like giving an ex-girlfriend that last kiss, just to see if there's anything still there. and nope. i'm sure there'll be nothing left here when tonight is over.
this is the longest real job i've ever held. this amuses me because i've been pretty much playing video games for a year. score one for peter pan-erism.
[ employee no.8 | 11:41 AM | ]
Thursday, August 25
"he [ethan watters] has hinted already that being in a tight gang of friends well into your 30s might have a time-filling aspect. the relentless, heavily ritualised activities of the groups he describes - weekly group dinners, group parties held at the slightest excuse - do suggest a fear of being alone and thinking about the trajectory of your life. in the long term, he says, this has a cost: '[you] dam up certain desires, hopes, and plans. with each passing year, the pressure builds a little.'"out of the frying pan, into the fire. watters suggests that despite the positive effects of having a tribe support you, having a group of friends who prolong each other's "next step" can be restrictive. part of it is about being in your comfort zone. if you're solidly within your friendship comfort zone all the time, there's no need to take chances with desired, but risky, forays into the world of strangers. if you've hung out with the same group of people for a dozen years, you may feel like you want to venture out, stretch your social wings, see if you can make a world for yourself.
think about how restrictive it can be to be with people who have known you forever. they'll never forget that time(s) you totally mispronounced a word. they won't stop calling you "booger" or something equally unappealing. they won't let you forget about your fucked up relationships or your slacker-ish ways. in short, being around your tribe can be like hanging out with parents who love to bring up embarassing stories. the tribe is like god: omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. although that last omni is sometimes highly questionable.
so maybe you want to escape, or to take a break for awhile. try new things. but unless there's a valid reason for excusing yourself from the tribe, you'll be ridiculed, outcasted and the butt of many behind-your-back jokes. i know this because most of the time i'm the one holding the bloody dagger. all in good fun of course.
but you love your tribe. and to leave them would mean stepping into the unknown. and that's pretty scary.
[ employee no.8 | 12:47 PM | ]
Tuesday, August 23andre the giant has a posse. they say that your friends are a reflection of you. would you subscribe to that theory? would you allow a random lottery of five of your friends to represent you? are there some friends you'd cringe at seeing come up in the lottery? i mean, we all have those right? friends that other people don't really understand how you're friends. no common interests, no real ties of any kind, totally opposing/conflicting personalities. of course, anyone can be friends with anyone -- life pulls people together in the most random of ways -- but some friendships make little to no sense. some friendships could even drag you down in the eyes of your peers.
so, which of your friends would you allow to represent you? there would be some "superstar" friends of course, where you'd always want them to be associated with you. your stock rises simply by being friends with them. "i know angelina jolie." that'll probably make people like you, even if the reasons for that are somewhat questionable. if a friend is particularly cool, that kind of positive image rubs off on you too. a cool friend is like pixie dust, or akin to a rising tide that raises all boats.
ethan watters talks about how in his study of urban tribes, he noticed that friends had a tendency to glorify each other. "he's the most talented person i know, she's the nicest person ever, they are the most charming well-mannered and sociable people ever. my friends are the best!" friends tend to overemphasize each other's good sides and rationalize away the bad. "he's not a drunk, he's just loud." mr watter's answer to why we do this? because we want to look good.
if friends are a mirror unto ourselves, why wouldn't we praise them to others? by raising their stock, your own stock soars too. in the same way, maybe some people defame their friends because their friends' stock is too high, and you have to drag them down a few levels to make yourself look better in comparison. "yeah, he may be the really good at tetris, but damn, he can't fix a flat tire." it's a little dance we do, alternately praising and bad-mouthing our friends. is it all selfish and ego driven? maybe.
[ employee no.8 | 4:22 PM | ]
Thursday, August 18how a social network theorist examines your life
(1) who are the people you'd call to discuss a romantic heartbreak?the names that come out of these questions would compose the key players in what researchers would call your "personal community," that is, a "social network defined from the standpoints of the Egos [aka: you] at its center."
this list in hand, the social network theorist could draw a sociogram of your social network. he would start with a dot indicating you, at the center, then draw lines radiating out to other dots indicating the friends whose names came up in the first five questions. obviously the first five questions would elicity smaller numbers of people than the latter questions because they indcate a stronger connection and deeper trust. most people average about three close friends or kin in these categories. the number of times the same person appears on the list is a rough indication of the strength of the social gravity he or she exerts on you.
the social network theorist's next steps in drawing your sociogram would be to include the names that begin to appear at question number six. he could draw slightly longer lines to connect your dot to these names, indicating that they exert slightly less interpersonal gravity on your life. these might be the people you see when larger groups of your friends gather. indeed, you may know them only within the context of these groups and spend little time with them one-on-one. your sociogram at this point may look a little like a picture of an exploding firework with you at the center.
-urban tribes: are friends the new family?-
[ employee no.8 | 10:24 AM | ]
Friday, August 12chandler and monica are doing what?! monkeys and other primates spend up to a fifth of their day grooming each other. there are probably quite a few reasons for this. i'd like to think that monkeys prize cleanliness above all else, but that's probably just my own biases sneaking in there. another, more important, reason that primates groom each other is that through the grooming process they build social bonds. a pack can only get as big as its ability for every member to groom each other. once you get a group too big to groom together, fights and swear words break out. coconuts get thrown, bananas get tossed, frat boys show up, it gets ugly.
humans do not groom each other (although we probably should in some cases), but we have a similar socializing mechanic. this mechanic is gossiping. wait, gossip is good for something besides spreading juicy news? yes. gossip has been posited as the reason for the invention of language, not the other way around. if you're keeping score, that means language evolved as a means to transfer gossip, and gossip wasn't just some bastard step-child of language. gossip is good.
now, monkeys can only groom one monkey at a time, which is hardly very efficient. this one-on-one limitation explains why monkey groups can only reach a certain size -- about fifty at most. but gossip, gossip is infectious and can be spread far and wide with little to no effort. in fact, it's harder to keep gossip than it is to spread it -- as i'm sure most of you are aware of.
while gossip does hold several advantages over grooming as a means of social bonding, it still doesn't mean that we can maintain an infinitely large social group. first the advantages of gossip.
one, gossip doesn't have to be done during gossip time. you can gossip while cooking, gossip while driving, gossip during a movie, you can mulit-task with gossip. grooming can only be done during a dedicated, stationary, period.
two, gossip can be spread to more than one person at a time. the speed of gossip, as determined by illustrious researchers not named jon, is "3.4." that's the number that gossip groups consist of, based on the projection of the human voice. of course, these researchers are discounting email, blogs, texts and other mass modes of gossip, ones that don't involve face to face interaction. i accounted for mass gossip in my superior calculations, but i'll put ego aside for the moment.
so, let's look at that "3.4" number. most good conversations are only possible with three to five people. try it. sit down at dinner with a party of ten and see how many conversation groups break out. when you get too large of a group, people can't hear each other, people get bored, people are out of the gossip loop. most good DDTs consist of three or four people, with numbers increasing only when the subject is particularly juicy, or the locale extremely quiet. seen under this light, "3.4" seems like the perfect number to describe how fast gossip can be personally spread.
so if monkeys can maintain social groups of fifty through grooming, how big of a social group can humans maintain through gossip? try roughly: [the speed of gossip] x [the max social group size of monkeys]. so 3x50, what do you get? the magical 150.
who loves math?
[ employee no.8 | 12:06 AM | ]
Wednesday, August 10central perk. i'm reading this book called urban tribes. i've been meaning to read it ever since it came out a few years ago. i knew that contained within this book (however critically acclaimed, or not, it was) would be answers to many questions that i've sought over a lifetime. someone was going to tell me why i value my friends more than almost anything else -- food, family, fornicating. and that someone would also tell me why this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. someone would also justify my existence in the universe, and all for under twenty dollars.
so pretty much anything interesting that i write about in the next few days/weeks will be gleened from urban tribes. all thoughts from here on out will be totally unoriginal. i know, totally not what you're used to. protest if you must. just keep it peaceful.
a long while back, i read something about how the number 150 represented the maximum number of individuals that we're hardwired to have social relationships with. that seemed like a really high number. urban tribes cites the same source and takes it a bit further. the mind boggling number of 150 actually represents the maximum, including friends and acquaintances. the real number of non-acquaintance friend is more like thirty seven, and these "bands" can range in size from twelve to fifty. that number makes a lot more sense. i can envision having a friend circle of thirty seven. a friend circle of one hundred fifty? even if you have 199 friendsters, you probably don't have that many people you'd actually deem worthy of the term "friend."
but the number of thirty seven seems do-able. i think i have thirty seven people i could feel comfortable calling "friends." i think i could maintain a decent social network of friends that numbers somewhere around thirty seven. any bigger and you're really reaching uber-popular status. given the range of twelve to fifty, i feel like everyone has about that number of friends. one fifty was just too crazy. nobody can eat fifty eggs, nobody can have a hundred and fifty friends.
i also think that the term "band" refers to your current set of friends. you can easily have one or two hundred friends thoughout your life, but at any one time, you can probably only maintain the average of thirty seven-ish.
if anyone can maintain more than the upper limit of fifty friends in their "band," i'd like to know how you do it.
[ employee no.8 | 12:33 PM | ]
Monday, August 8ownage. due to the dearth of good music on the radio, i usually listen to talk radio on my drives to and from work. i basically swing between sports talk shows and conservative talk shows, with the occassional paranormal show if it's a really lucky late night. to fill my conservative palate, i listen to rush limbaugh in the mornings, dr laura on the way home, and then this guy, phil henry, at night when he co-opts my sports talk station.
i'm trying to find some information about phil henry online, but i cannot. he's basically a conservative talk show host but jerry springer-like in his ability to incense the audience. verbal fisticuffs break out regularly on his show, most, if not all of it by design. the very first show i heard was about some marine who didn't want to ride in his friend's "beaner mobile." topics usually have to do with racism or sexism or any other -ism. this is the most politically incorrect show i've ever heard. i'm sure even conservatives wouldn't allow phil henry to be placed in their camp.
most recently, phil henry had a guy on who was making an argument for a month to celebrate slave traders/owners -- since we have a black history month. his argument was that without the slavers and the slave trade bringing blacks to america, they wouldn't have had the opportunity to participate in the greatest nation on earth. "black people would still be in africa eating bugs and shit, instead of over here making millions of dollars rapping and dunking (paraphrased)." i mean like wow. what a statement. your first instinct is an angry one of course. what an ignorant statement to say, and worst of all, to believe.
the caller was berated for his inability to see how africa's growth has been stunted by the slave trade, and how america might not have become the powerhouse its been without the benefit of cheap slave labor.
and even though it's a terrible statement, and a highly offensive one, it's kind of interesting because i've never heard anyone say anything "positive" about slavery. i doubt anyone would ever espouse slavery but neither do we ever acknowledge the positives that slavery has wrought for individual nations. i read something somewhere about all great nations rising from the backs of another slave nation(s). without slavery, ancient civilizations like the greeks couldn't have thrived. slaves built the great wall, slaves were once thought to have built the pyramids, slaves have been a part of human civilization since the very beginning.
which doesn't make it right, but it makes it something to talk about. even if it makes your skin curl and your hands clench.
[ employee no.8 | 2:35 PM | ]
Friday, August 5
"i feel like i've been really open to people lately, but that people haven't been too open to me, and i think what i need to do is seek a more mutual situation. i need to keep in mind several things.
[ employee no.8 | 2:23 PM | ]
Thursday, August 4who moved my cheese? like a trained lab rat, i was given more responsiblity and immediately responded postively. it's amazing what a little responsibility can do to your work ethic. you see this type of thing work well with children. "johnny, you're in charge of trash for the day, it's your job -- and your special job only -- to go around and pick up every piece of trash on the planet. go." and off stupid little johnny will go, accosting all the kids for their trash and picking up everything nasty in sight.
responsibility. big word, even bigger motivational tool.
as you can surmise, i was given a new duty at work. it is now my responsbility to enter the bugs into the spanking new database. i was doing such a piss poor job of finding bugs (all part of the master plan mind you), they decided that they would sacrifice me to the organizational gods instead. and now when i'm at work, i work three times harder than before. i would have said "i work infinitely harder" but that kind of drastic mark up would make me out to be too much of a slacker. i mean, i do have a work ethic, it's just hard to identify without prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
but oh, little did they know, that inputting the work of others is my specialty. my calling is not actually working, but presenting other people's work in an aesthetically pleasing manner. i'm really good at bolding, underlining and using just the right amount of spaces in-between report sections. i use my knowledge of negative space within the framework of spreadsheets and word documents. i'm an unappreciated artist.
the joy i get from finishing up a little task is indescribable. the key to keeping menial laborers asking for more is to give them bite sized goals that they can easily reach. this way they'll feel more accomplished. instead of finishing one big task at the end of a long day, they'll have finished eight little ones in a furiously paced race to the dinner bell.
i'm so efficient now that i'm bothered when people don't respond to me immediately. i go around asking people "can you check on this for me? is this bug a dupe? could you make sure to use spell check next time?" i've never cared so much at a job. and i've never cared so much about doing a good job.
and all because they offered me a morsel of responsibility. i've got to apply this awesome motivational tool called "false responsibility" to the rest of my life. the problem is, my friends/underlings aren't children anymore, and they can't be fooled as easily as when they were ignorant squirts.
cunningly worded ploys like, "james (totally random name), you're in charge of washing all of the dishes, because you're so good at it," just doesn't seem like it'll work. actually, i retract that statement. sometimes you can make people do things just by flattering them. flattery, yet another motivational tool to have in your tool box.
dale carnegie's got nothing on me.
[ employee no.8 | 2:17 AM | ]
Monday, August 1it pays to have character. you know about my undying appreciation for steve buscemi right? i mean, the guy is practically my hero. a scrawny weird looking guy who has more subversive cool than samuel jackson ever had real cool. when steve buscemi is in a scene, there's no doubt that all eyes are on him -- and not just because of his jacked up teeth. nobody plays super loser like steve buscemi. although paul giamatti is really giving him a run for his money recently. then again, the fact that giamatti played the main villain in "big fat liar," co-starring frankie muniz, really hurts him. but everyone needs to pay the bills.
so, what's the main difference between a character actor and an A-actor? looks, right? the difference between steve buscemi and keanu reeves is what? looks, and talent.
i feel like character actors tend to be better actors. sure, they may be typecast and end up in five iterations of the same role, but at least they've got that one role played to perfection. stars have to try out new roles. and few stars can hack it. nobody likes to see julia roberts sad; we want to see her playing a happy hooker or a jealous home wrecker. part of the problem is that we can't really separate a julia roberts, or a leonardo dicaprio, apart from the role that they're playing. quick, name one of julia robert's characters -- aside from erin brockovich, or mary reilly. can't do it right?
but with B-actors, who cares? all you might think when you see a character actor is "hey, it's that guy from that movie, i think." so it's easier to come to terms with a not-so-familiar face playing a character.
my newest character actor name to know is brendan gleeson. you've seen him. he's hamish in braveheart, best friend to mel gibson's william wallace. in troy, he's the king who got his beautiful helen stolen away. he's renee zellweger's fiddle playing father in cold mountain. he's a professor at hogwarts, mad-eye moody. brendan gleeson's been in classics such as lake placid, the tailor of panama, mission impossible 2, turbulence, michael collins, artificial intellience, 28 days later, and gangs of new york. he's the big guy behind the stars. and he's irish, as many of his roles can attest to.
while we're on the topic of irish character actors, pre-brendan gleeson, i kept my eyes peeled for brian cox sightings. troy was a great movie for me as both brian cox and brendan gleeson were in it, playing the mycenaean warrior kings, agamemnon and menelaus, respectively.and while i'm on the movie topic, let me talk about the casting for the highly anticipated davinci code. tom hanks as the lead? totally wrong. he's gotten a bit too pudgy and he's not really handsome by any stretch of the imagination. and does he strike you as the professor type? not really. but whatever, they need a name to sell, hanks needs a big movie. now, the casting of audrey tatou as female lead? horrible. absolutely terrible. i love audrey tatou but she's miscast. her eyes are too big for one. she's too short for two. she's not really the sophie that i envisioned, or the one that was described in the book. the perfect french actress to cast in davinci code? a younger sophie marceau (the queen in braveheart). her name is already sophie and her look and frame is perfect for the role. if we're just gonna pick the most famous french actress in the states, why bother? cast someone who can be right for the role, even if it's an unknown. this is like the mid-nineties when gerard depardieu got every male french role, simply for being the only french guy americans knew. it's a tragedy.
[ employee no.8 | 12:03 PM | ]